RUGBY: ULSTER BANK LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS: Old Belvedere 22 Clontarf 20 : THERE WAS drama at Anglesea Road on Saturday as a try seven minutes into stoppage time by winger Eddie Devitt sealed Old Belvedere’s place in the final at the expense of Bernard Jackman’s powerfully assembled Clontarf.
An 78th-minute penalty from fullback Dara O’Shea looked like being enough to guide the Castle Avenue men over the line, but the perseverance of Old Belvedere was crucial in the outcome.
Belvedere were the favourites going in, but they found the going tough early on, and fell behind with just five minutes gone when Clontarf centre Killian Lett burst through a number of challenges to touch down in the left corner.
This lead was then increased on 15 minutes when flanker Barry O’Mahony finished off a fine team move that was instigated by strong running from Lett and outhalf Martin Dufficy.
The home side opened their account on 21 minutes with a straightforward Conal Keane penalty, and even though they continued to struggle for much of the half (particularly in the lineout), they did finish the half well, as two more Keane penalties meant there was just three points separating the sides (12-9) at the interval.
Clontarf once again made the better start to the half, as O’Mahony finished off a long move across the Belvedere line to notch his second try two minutes in.
Belvedere brought the margin down to five just three minutes later thanks to a fourth Keane penalty from all of 35 metres.
Clontarf indiscipline then saw them lose Michael Keating and replacement Ben Reilly with yellow cards in the 50th and 56th minutes, and Belvedere took full advantage during this period to score their first try courtesy of Leo Auva’a on 63 minutes.
It looked like Clontarf, playing in their eighth semi-final in 11 years, were going to sneak this Dublin derby when O’Shea kicked over to the left of the posts.
But then a failure to find touch at the whistle came back to haunt Clontarf as Devitt ran on to his own kick over the head of Keating, and, after Danny Riordan controlled the ball with the boot, the former Leinster Under-20 star was on hand to score.
OLD BELVEDERE: D Riordan; E Devitt, J Kennedy, B Woods, D Mongan; Conal Keane, S Keogh; V Soden, D Gilchrist, S Maguire, R Leydon, B Marshall, J Slattery, J Risdon, L Auva’a. Replacements: Chris Keane for Mongan (36 mins), A Dunne for Conal Keane (46 mins), D Moore for Marshall (52 mins), K Buckley for Buckley (57 mins), K Miller for Slattery (70 mins).
CLONTARF: D O’Shea; M McGarth, K Lett, E Ryan, M Keating; M Dufficy, H Nolan; C Kavanagh, A Dundon, N Treston, B Gissing, M Kearney, E Cremin, B O’Mahony, S Crawford. Replacements: B Reilly for Gissing (55 mins), B Barclay for Treston (64 mins), J Wilson for Dufficy (70 mins).
Referee: John Carvill (IRFU).